Books: The ethics of using helicopters

Projections 9: French Film- makers on Film-making

edited by Michel Ciment and Noel Herpe trs Pierre Hodgson Faber pounds 12.99

As multiplexes spring up endlessly across the country, their screens choked with bloated star vehicles promoted by glossy film monthlies, Projections, the annual film buff's bible from Faber, continues to bring us something completely different. A worthy successor to last year's excellent edition, which focused on film critics and the role of criticism in cinema, the latest volume comprises articles taken from one of the granddaddies of auteurist analysis, Positif.

The regular series editors, John Boorman and Walter Donohue, have handed the reins to a pair of the magazine's senior contributors, Michael Ciment and Noel Herpe. Boorman's foreword and Ciment's introduction set the scene: 21 interviews with three generations of French film- makers about films from the past two decades, each prefaced by a potted guide to their career and a brief synopsis of the work under discussion.

The elder statesman of the collection, Robert Bresson, kicks off with a look at his last work to date, L'Argent (1983), and a suggestion that the trend towards three hour films is a sign of slovenly film- making - the first of many direct and indirect references in the book to the sort of commercial product churned out or inspired by Hollywood. Claude Chabrol, for instance, talks about La Ceremonie (1995), his adaptation of a novel by Ruth Rendell, in terms of the interaction between characters rather than the mechanics of suspense.

Louis Malle, one of only two interviewees to have worked in the studio system, contrasts his acclaimed study of French wartime oppression under the Germans, Au revoir les enfants (1987), with a failed commission in the States, and expresses admiration for Americans who work wonders with formula material. Jean-Pierre Jeunet, meanwhile, director of Delicatessen (1990), sees himself as a craftsman rather than an artist, and makes references to Spielberg, Scorsese and Gilliam with the ease you would expect of someone who went on to helm Alien Resurrection (1997).

The same directors are mentioned by Mathieu Kassowitz, maker of explosive racial drama La Haine (1996) and star of Un Heros tres discret (1995), another examination of personal morality in the Second World War by fellow interviewee Jacques Audiard. Audiard, part of the same generation, is the older of the two, so it is no surprise that he talks about the intellectual aspects of his film where his colleague talks about the technical ones, one of the many checks and balances that connect the interviews. Kassowitz brings a miniature helicopter to a housing estate for a complex aerial shot, but Robert Guediguian refuses even to use a crane for Marius et Jeanette (1997) because expensive equipment amid grinding poverty is insulting.

Maurice Pialat describes profligacy and confrontation in shooting his biopic Van Gogh (1991) that characterise his career as a whole, while Patrice Leconte discusses his meticulous planning for satirical costume drama Ridicule (1997) and believes that love and trust between the cast and crew produces the best work. Catherine Breillat dismisses the screenplay of her sex drama 36 fillette (1988) as the ghost of what was made on set, but Olivier Assayas, assessing his developing talents as writer and director, asserts that everything needed to make the film should be in the script.

Ciment is keen to point out that all but one of the interviewees write their own scripts, but of the many films discussed, the director either co-wrote, simply helped develop, or worked from an existing screenplay. Bertrand Tavernier brings the question of authorship into sharp relief when he talks about using someone other than his usual cinematographer to produce a different look for Un dimanche a la campagne (1984). Alain Resnais comments that whoever directed the work of Dennis Potter, his inspiration for recent musical comedy On connait la chanson (1998), the writer always seemed to be doing the editing.

However, there's no disputing Ciment's explanation of why French cinema has resisted Hollywood better than the rest of Europe: because the cultural and political climate is in its favour, attracting attention from its national audience and garnering grants from whichever government is in power. A lesson for us all.

Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat

Arts and Entertainment
A sketch of Van Gogh has been discovered in the archives of Kunsthalle Bremen in Germany
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Eleanor Catton has hit back after being accused of 'treachery' for criticising the government.
books
Arts and Entertainment
Fake Banksy stencil given to artist Alex Jakob-Whitworth

art

Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is heading to Norwich for Radio 1's Big Weekend

music
Arts and Entertainment
Beer as folk: Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nri (centre) in ‘Cucumber’
tvReview: This slice of gay life in Manchester has universal appeal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
‘A Day at the Races’ still stands up well today
film
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tvAnd its producers have already announced a second season...
Arts and Entertainment
Kraftwerk performing at the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) museum in Berlin earlier this month
musicWhy a bunch of academics consider German electropoppers Kraftwerk worthy of their own symposium
Arts and Entertainment
Icelandic singer Bjork has been forced to release her album early after an online leak

music
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth as Harry Hart in Kingsman: The Secret Service

film
Arts and Entertainment
Brian Blessed as King Lear in the Guildford Shakespeare Company's performance of the play

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee